The Dreaming Tree
It was finally my turn! I felt overwhelmed by all the choices. My heart was racing. I only had 2 hours left to decide.
In my small secluded village, set deep in the forest along the Appalachian Trail there was a magical tree, The Dreaming Tree.
The tree was a towering giant that had beautiful white flowers year round that fell into a graceful carpet all around it. Birds built perfect nests in branches that never needed trimmed. Each year ten fruits grew on the lowest branch. The fruits were for the children of the village, once they reached the age of sixteen, to pick.
The fruit, that kind of looked like an apple but tasted like an orange, once eaten, released the child’s dreams. Their deepest wish and desire.
A few times it had been disastrous – there was a great evil in existed some people even at an early age. Most children’s wishes were easy to see and accomplished quickly.
In my heart I knew, I wanted to be different.
My desire has always been to be remembered. To be known for something. Be it creativity, caring, helpfulness, intelligence…anything really. The Dreaming Tree was my one chance to change everything. I had to do this right. I had one shot. My choice had to be made by five p.m.
As I sat in my bedroom, I reflected on what others had wished for in the past. To be doctors, to cure illness, Olympic athletes, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, artists, master musicians. I wanted my wish to be great. I was lost in a sea of possibilities. I could not slow my mind down to concentrate on just one choice. My mind was bombarded with voices and ideas.
Then suddenly as the Village clock struck 4:30, the designated time for the children of the Village to gather – I made my choice. It was suddenly crystal clear. So with a peaceful heart and calm mind I lined up in the Village center with the nine other children.
Our Village Chieftain, a wizened old man, leaning heavily on a hand carved cane stepped up to a podium and gave the speech that we had all heard a hundred times, but were glued to every word none the less. This year, to us kids that turned sixteen, the words took on a different and more important meaning.
“The Dreaming Tree has been at the center of our Village since it began. We have learned over the centuries of its great powers. Each year, the fruits that grow have granted each child their desire. Their deepest wish will come true. We have seen the highs and lows. We have seen great wisdom and great sorrow develop from these wishes. If a child has a dream to become something, and they are chosen to eat the fruit, it will be so.”
“Children, you are about to embark on your greatest journey. As you pick your fruit, think only of your wish. As you take your first bite, concentrate. Finish your fruit and then return to your home. Your wish will be granted overnight. You will have deep dreams of the life you will lead. Tomorrow, you will begin your journey to fulfillment.”
We began our walk as the Village clock struck five pm. One pale skinned girl ran ahead and picked the first fruit that she came to and ate it quickly. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and ran back to her house.
One of the boys walked around the tree several times before picking one of the larger fruits.
One by one, each of the children picked their fruit and ate it all. Some ate slowly, concentrating and savoring each bite. Other gobbled it so fast, juice squirted down their clothing. I was the last one. There was one fruit left, so shiny it almost seem to glow. I took a deep breath and walked over to the Chieftain. I looked into his eyes and knew I was doing the right thing.
He had watched countless children over the decades pick fruit and make their choices. He had seen it all. But we had all heard the story that he was not allowed to eat the fruit the year he turned 16. There were eleven children that year, but as always only ten fruit. That year, all the wishes made that year took the children away from the Village. As he grew older he was the only one left the adults could pass on their knowledge. As he reached the age of fifty, he became our Chieftain.
Nobody but he knew how old he was now. His hands were roughened from years of manual labor. His eyes held compassion only gained through great sorrow. He looked at me now with confusion as I stood before him, but he did not question my actions.
I gently took his hands and cradled them in mine. I spoke with a confidence that I had not known I previously possessed. “You sir, have the wisdom of all the ages. You have knowledge so vast, that it cannot be contained in mere books. You have taught all of us in the Village everything we know – now you can do one more thing. Take my wish, my great chieftain. You never had the chance to take the direct path for your journey to greatness. Make your choice now.”
I reached with him to pick the last fruit. With tears in his eyes, he took a deep breath, nodded, and bit in the fruit. He closed his eyes and concentrated on each bite till all that was left was a short stem attached to the core of the fruit. I took it from his hand and walked back to my house, head held high. My steps calm and sure. I felt accomplished, satisfied. I placed the core in a small jar and set it high upon a shelf in my room. That night I dreamed of being the first female Chieftain of our ancient Village.
We shall see what the morning brings…